5/28/11, "Not-guilty plea in 'Allahu akbar' cockpit storming," San Francisco Chronicle, Kevin Fagan
"A Yemeni immigrant who authorities say tried to slam his way into the cockpit of a San Francisco-bound jetliner while yelling "Allahu akbar" pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday to one felony charge of interfering with a flight crew.
If convicted, Rageh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Murisi could face 20 years in federal prison and $350,000 in fines and restitution payments.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley ordered Al-Murisi to remain jailed without bail until his next hearing June 23 in San Francisco.
The crew members and passengers who tackled the 26-year-old Al-Murisi on May 8 said they were afraid he was planning to crash the plane as an act of terrorism.
Al-Murisi's lawyer says his client was in mental crisis and had no nefarious intentions.
"No, no, he did not want to crash the plane," attorney Christopher Morales said. "The Muslim faith he practices is against violence, and he absolutely rejects al Qaeda and terrorism.
"He was scared and nervous in his own mind. It all had to do with his mental health issues."
Attorneys in the case said Al-Murisi had been hallucinating and hearing voices for two months before he boarded American Airlines Flight 1561 in Chicago, which was the second leg of a trip from New York to visit relatives in Vallejo. They said Al-Murisi, who was a math teacher in Yemen, recently lost his job at a convenience store in New York and expressed suicidal intentions on the flight.
He underwent a mental exam this week at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, where he is being held. Although court officials would not reveal the results, Morales said, "If he was not found competent, he wouldn't have been arraigned today.""